September 29, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House passed Rep. Scott Peters’ (CA-52) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ (FL-12) bipartisan Suicide and Threat Assessment Nationally Dedicated to Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2020. The bill requires states, schools and Tribes to implement commonsense, evidence-based policies to prevent suicides in order to receive Project AWARE grants, which boost youth mental health awareness among schools and communities. The bill applies to grades 6 through 12, and would equip teachers, administrators and students with the skills they need to identify, intervene and get help for people who are at risk of harming themselves or others.
“Teaching students and school personnel to understand and recognize signs of violent or suicidal ideation in youth and their peers is crucial to stem the crises of youth suicide and violence,” said Rep. Peters. “Early prevention can mean the difference between life or death, and giving schools the tools they need to prevent and react to threats before tragedy occurs ensures we are protecting our children and school safety.”
“There is no higher priority than keeping our children safe,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “By providing high quality screening and prevention training to school staff and peers, we can identify threats before they materialize, and ensure that those who are at risk get the mental health treatment they need.”
"I can't think of a better way to recognize National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month than the House of Representatives voting to expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention programs for young people. It's more important than ever to prioritize this kind of training," said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. "We are deeply grateful to the bipartisan sponsors of the STANDUP Act – Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) – who championed this life-saving legislation."
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 10-24, with cases of suicide among Black and other minority youth notably rising in recent years. New reports also indicate the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated children’s and teens’ anxiety, depression and isolation, which are stressors commonly associated with suicide.
Adolescent suicide and violence can be prevented: 70 percent of people who die by suicide tell someone their plans or demonstrate warning signs and 80 percent of school shooters tell someone their plans prior to acting. The STANDUP Act’s policies are key to stopping school violence and youth suicide by encouraging early prevention, teaching children and adults to heed warning signs, and giving educators and administrators the tools they need to stop violence before it happens.
In November 2019, Rep. Peters visited Bernardo Heights Middle School in Rancho Bernardo to meet with student advocates for the school’s Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) Promise Club and the Mental Health Awareness Club. The students shared their experiences involving the “Start with Hello” inclusivity project and “See Something, Say Something” prevention program, initiatives similar to those the STANDUP Act would seek to expand to schools across the country.
Passed by the House, the STANDUP Act is headed to the Senate.